Millions of tourists flock to Central Italy every year to experience Florence’s many iconic landmarks and attractions, but it’s the city’s ideal location which may be its most enticing feature.
Situated in the heart of the Tuscany Region, Florence is the perfect base for exploring the many charming towns that surround the city, as well as major Italian cities beyond.
So, once you’ve had your fill of the Cradle of the Renaissance, discovering the Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia, and Florence Cathedral, plan out time for exciting day trips to these unforgettable destinations.
You can easily book Florence Tours to cities like Pisa and Rome as well as the stunningly beautiful Cinque Terre. Whether you’re looking for a full day tour or a relaxing half-day escape, you’re sure to find an experience that fits your personal travel style.
Journey with me into the Tuscan hills to explore delightful wineries and castles, as well as to the West Coast and other regions that can all be experienced by arranging a tour or a private chauffer from Florence.
Note that many of the following places can easily be combined into a single day trip, but if you want to have time to visit everything Central Italy has to offer, consider booking accommodation in Florence on HousingAnywhere for the longer term.
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Best Day Trips from Florence
Pisa: More Than a Leaning Tower
One of the best day trips from Florence is Pisa. While the city is most known for its famous leaning tower that is a likely a common sight in your Instagram feed, the city is filled with a number of notable attractions.
Many of Pisa’s main attractions can easily be seen in a single day visit from Florence because they are grouped in and around the Piazza dei Miracoli or “Square of Miracles.
The Pisa Cathedral depicts exceptional Romanesque architecture and was built roughly a century before the famous leaning bell tower’s construction during the 12th century. The tower actually began to lean even during its construction and continues to delight visitors who can climb to the top.
Other must-see landmarks in Pisa include Italy’s largest baptistery, the Sinopie Museum with its 14th and 15th century sketches from artists who worked on the walls of the Campo Santo, and the well-manicured lawns of Campo Santo.
In addition, there are a number of remarkable churches in the area to check out as well as medieval palaces to discover. Proof that Pisa is much more than just a leaning tower!
Siena: A Touch of Medieval
While Duomo Florence may be one of Italy’s most impressive churches, Siena offers up the country’s finest Gothic church. With an impressive white and greenish-black striped marble exterior and its collection of works from master artists like Donatello and Bernini, Siena Cathedral is a sight to behold.
While you may be tempted to stare up at the beautiful walls and ceilings of the church from within, be sure to check out the impressive floor mosaics, some of which are only uncovered certain months of the year.
Siena’s historic centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of Europe’s finest medieval squares. The Piazza del Campo is the beating heart of the city and is where you’ll find Siena’s answer to Pisa’s tower.
While Siena’s Torre del Mangia may not lean, it’s just as impressive, at one time being one of medieval Italy’s tallest towers. You can climb the 400 steps to the top to get an impressive view over the beautiful city with its abundance of Gothic architecture.
Siena also offers up the bareback horserace known as the Palio di Siena which is held twice annually during the summer months. While the race may last less than two minutes, it’s quite a thrilling experience that has proven to be quite dangerous at times for the courageous jockeys that take part in the race.
You may also want to check out one of Tuscany’s biggest markets which is held at the Giardini la Lizza. Sienna is a wonderful day trip from Florence, and it would be a shame to miss!
Greve in Chianti: A Wine Hop
About halfway between Florence and Siena, you’ll find the Chianti wine region’s main town. Greve in Chianti is a medieval town just 30 kilometers from Florence, making it an easy half-day trip.
The town’s main square is Piazza Matteotti, unique in that it is actually triangle shaped. It is here where organic farmers’ markets are held once a month from March to December.
Come September, the town hosts the annual Chianti Classico Expo where visitors can sample various wines, olive oils, and cheeses from the Chianti Region.
Tour the gardens and wine cellars of the 230-acre Castello di Verrazzano Castle’s gardens where you can sample more great Chianti Classico, rosè, and Vin Santo wines.
You may also wish to visit the Franciscan monastery or the nearby village of Montefioralle that overlooks Greve in Chianti. It is in Montefioralle where the legendary explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born.
Lucca: A Trip to the 16th Century
Another city that can easily be visited in a day is Lucca. Situated at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Lucca was once an independent republic for roughly 500 years.
Lucca is known for its 16th century walls which surround the city, once meant for defense but now utilized as a popular pedestrian promenade that is frequented by runners and bikers. Designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, the walls run roughly 4 kilometers and have helped to preserve the authenticity of Lucca’s heritage.
Lucca’s skyline is filled with impressive towers including a gorgeous clock tower and the Romanesque-Gothic Guinigi Tower which you can climb to the top of. Visitors who opt to climb the more than 200 steps to the top will be rewarded with a garden of oak trees on the balcony observation deck.
Down below, the cobblestone streets are filled with museums, shops, restaurants, and medieval churches. One of the city’s finest churches that warrants a visit is the Chiesa di San Michele in Foro.
San Gimignano: Manhattan of the Middle Ages
Another fascinating walled town is San Gimignano. Located in the province of Siena, the town is famous for its more than a dozen towers that fill the skyline much like Lucca.
At one time, San Gimignano was home to over 70 towers, making it seem like the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages”. While they may have not all survived, the city’s offering of towers has fared much better than other Tuscan cites. I recommend you climb Torre Grossa, the only accessible tower in the town, for the incredible views it offers over the city.
Loaded with Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the town’s Historic Centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is where you’ll encounter the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano as well as several other notable towers.
When in San Gimignano, don’t miss the opportunity to sample delicious Vernaccia di San Gimignano white wine. Crafted from the Vernaccia grape, the dry white wine is touted as one of the most exceptional white wines in Italy.
The wine has received DOCG status, an even greater distinction from its previous classification as a DOC wine. It was the first Italian wine to receive such the DOC classification. The town also offers incredible gelato in popular spots like the Gelateria di Piazza.
More Day Trips From Florence
These are just a sampling of the many great cities and towns that can all be visited via day trips from Florence. You’ll find many more delightful regions to explore if you’re planning an extended stay in Florence.
Sample fine wines in both Montepulciano and Montalcino. Montepulciano offers up Vino Nobile di Montepulciano made from Sangiovese and you can taste Brunello di Montalcino wine in Montalcino.
Between these two towns you can discover the UNESCO listed town of Pienza with its Pienza Cathedral and Piccolomini Palace.
You can of course also plan day trips from Florence to Italian hotspots like Rome, the Cinque Terra, and other top UNESCO sites it Italy. For things to do in Rome, I recommend you check out my latest post on the top places to visit in Rome.
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